On October 19, 2013, Yale Law School hosted the Global Seminar on Military Justice Reform, with financial support from the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund. Background readings for the seminar, which addressed reform issues in several countries, can be found in the seminar's Reading Room.
I participated in this very informative and thoughtful seminar. It was interesting to hear about the substantial reforms of military justice systems in Europe, especially in Britain, as a result of binding decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. In England, civilian judges are presiding over courts martial. The procedure governing summary trials has been reviewed to ensure fairness to accused who can now be represented by counsel and appeal findings of guilty. It was comforting to hear from His Honour Judge Blackett that fears and apprehensions of the chain of command created by the reform did not materialize and that the system works well. Certainly worth looking at the British experience and having another seminar on military justice to measure the progress made in participating jurisdictions, especially the USA where a wind of reform, mild from my perspective, appears to be blowing with respect to the chain of command's involvement in the prosecution of offences.ReplyDelete
I also participated in this very informative and thoughtful seminar. It was interesting to hear about the substantial reforms to military justice systems introduced in many European countries, especially Britain, as a result of binding decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. In the UK, civilian judges are presiding over courts martial.ReplyDelete
Also, the procedure governing summary hearings has been reviewed to ensure more fairness to an accused serviceperson who can now appeal findings and be represented by legal counsel. This is most significant since in Canada we still rely on a Victorian procedure titled ‘Summary Trials’ where there are no rules of evidence and where the accused has no right to counsel and no right to appeal despite facing the possibility of being sentenced to a period of detention and the possibility of being saddled with a criminal record. To call these proceedings ‘summary trials’ in Canada is, to say the least, a gross misnomer. A ‘trial’ implies a ‘formal examination of evidence and applicable law by a competent tribunal to determine the issue of specific charges or claims’. These characteristics are lacking.
It was also comforting to hear from His Honour Judge Blackett at the Seminar that fears and apprehension of the UK chain of command created by the reform did not materialize and that their military justice system works well.
It is certainly worth looking at the British experience and having another seminar on military justice to measure the progress made there and elsewhere. The organizers, in particular Professor Fidell, deserves a huge bouquet of kudos for hosting such a successful seminar.